21st Century Fox Earnings Rise Amid Strong Results From Fox News and FX Networks

Fox News H 2016
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Revenue for its largest segment, cable network programming, came in at $3.8 billion while the conglomerate's TV stations benefited from political advertising.

21st Century Fox on Wednesday reported quarterly income from continuing operations up substantially year over year as revenue rose 7 percent to $6.51 billion, helped by political advertising at its TV stations and strong results from the Fox News Channel.

Revenue for its largest segment, cable network programming, came in at $3.8 billion, up from $3.5 billion last year, while filmed entertainment was at $1.9 billion, up from $1.8 billion.

The film segment posted $311 million in operating income, up from $149 million a year ago, with the boost coming from lower costs and the worldwide theatrical performance of Independence Day: Resurgence and the home-entertainment release of Deadpool.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children had a "strong opening," said executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch, though the money it generates won't show up until future quarters.

The conglomerate's smallest segment, television, was the only one to report declining revenue, coming in at $1.04 billion this time around compared with $1.05 billion a year ago.

Earnings from continuing operations were $827 million, or 44 cents per share, compared with $678 million, or 34 cents per share, a year ago.

Cable network results benefited from rate increases at Fox News, FX Networks, FS1 and the conglomerate's regional sports networks. Domestic advertising grew 6 percent, primarily due to Fox News.

During a conference call with analysts, Murdoch gave a shout-out to Fox News anchor Chris Wallace for his "superb" performance as moderator of the third presidential debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"Of course, Fox News has never been stronger," Murdoch said, in part due to an "intense" presidential election.

Chief executive James Murdoch said that, despite "a lot of noise" about falling TV ratings for NFL games, Fox is doing just fine with the games it is broadcasting, while Lachlan Murdoch added that MLB's World Series going to a full seven games is obviously good for Fox, though he wouldn't say how much money the network will make from the contest.

Asked to address AT&T agreeing to acquire Time Warner, a company Fox once wanted to merge with, James Murdoch said: "This is an industry that thrives on scale." That said, he added that "scale for scale's sake" isn't something Fox will chase, so there is no "heightened appetite" to acquire companies.

Shares of Fox were down 1.4 percent Wednesday and didn't budge much immediately after the closing bell when its quarterly results were released. The results narrowly bested the expectations of analysts.